William K. Pao


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William K. Pao is a trusted adviser and creative strategist who specializes in high-exposure commercial, consumer, and securities litigation. As Chair of O’Melveny’s Fintech Group, Will works closely with emerging financial and technology companies, advising cryptocurrency and blockchain pioneers on securities, regulatory, and litigation issues—a legal landscape that continues to evolve with the rise of NFTs and the dawn of the metaverse. Will also understands the business priorities and reputational concerns of traditional banking clients, crafting litigation strategies that have successfully narrowed consumer claims, limited liability, and thwarted putative class actions. And with many of Will’s clients spanning global markets—including US-listed Chinese companies and US companies that operate in China—he provides sophisticated, culturally savvy analysis of cross-border conventions and procedures. 

Drawing on his experience as a former in-house secondee at one of the nation’s largest financial institutions, Will recognizes that a successful outcome involves more than skillful motion practice. Understanding a client’s business inside and out—from industry dynamics to customer trends to strategic goals—allows him to counsel and guide his clients through highly complex and sensitive matters.

Will has been recognized by Benchmark Litigation as a “Litigation Star” for his work in securities, financial services, and commercial litigation, and named him to its “40 & Under Hot List.”  He has also been named to The American Lawyer’s list of West Trailblazers, which identifies “professionals in the West who have moved the needle in the legal industry."  And Will has been identified by the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of the “Most Influential Minority Attorneys” in Los Angeles.



  • Mandarin Chinese

Honors & Awards

  • Named to The American Lawyer's second annual list of West Trailblazers (2022)
  • Named "Local Litigation Star" for Financial Services, General Commercial, and Securities by Benchmark Litigation (2020-2023)
  • Recommended by The Legal 500 US for General Commercial Disputes and Securities Litigation: Defense (2020)
  • Named to the 40 & Under Hot List for Financial Services, General Commercial, and Securities by Benchmark Litigation (2018-2019)
  • US Supreme Court victory in Resh v. China Agritech, Inc. named a National Impact Case by Benchmark Litigation California (2019)
  • Recognized by the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of the “Most Influential Minority Attorneys” in Los Angeles (2018)
  • Recognized as a Southern California “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers as published in Los Angeles magazine (2014-2019)


Bar Admissions

  • California

Court Admissions

  • US Supreme Court
  • US District Court, District of Colorado
  • US District Court, Central, Eastern, Northern, and Southern Districts of California
  • US Court of Appeals, Fifth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits


  • University of California at Berkeley, J.D.: Order of the Coif; Executive Editor, Berkeley Business Law Journal; Member, Moot Court Board
  • Fudan University, Fulbright Scholar
  • University of Southern California, B.A., Political Science, Economics, East Asian Languages and Cultures (triple major): summa cum laude; Departmental Honors (Political Science); Phi Beta Kappa

Professional Activities


  • Honorable Fortunato Benavides, US Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • Honorable David F. Levi, US District Court, Eastern District of California 

Fulbright Scholar

  • China 


  • "Decentralized Automated Organizations (DAOs): Practical Applications and Legal Framework," Briefing for the Practising Law Institute (November 16, 2022) 
  • "What the DAO: The Latest Blockchain Craze and What it Means For You,” DeFI and DAO Summit," NFT Next Fest (September 15, 2022)
  • “Doing Business in the US: Issues Facing Foreign Businesses,” PRC Consulate, Los Angeles (April 2, 2019)
  • “Current Issues in US-China Cross Border Litigation,” Tsinghua University School of Law (March 2012)
  • “Developing a China Practice 101,” Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association (January 2012)
  • “How to Do Business with China: What You Need to Know About Dispute Resolution, Deals, Anti-Bribery, and Other Legal Issues,” Los Angeles Chinese Chamber of Commerce (October 2012)
  • “How to Serve Clients in China with Your U.S. Litigation Practice,” Webinar for the American Bar Association (May 2012)
  • “Careers in International Law,” State Bar of California (March 2012)
  • “Developing an International Practice: Asia 101,” Webinar for State Bar of California (November 2011)
  • “Securities Litigation Goes Global: Unique Issues Posed by Securities Litigation and Enforcement in a Globalized Economy,” State Bar of California (June 2011)


  • "Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs): Overview," Thomson Reuters Practical Law (November 29, 2022)
  • "Talkin' Tokens," Orange County Business Journal (October 17, 2022)
  • “Resurrecting Time-Barred Crypto Claims Is An Uphill Struggle,” Law360 (May 6, 2020)
  • “Five Crypto-Securities Trends that Spell More Lawsuits in 2018,” Journal of Investment Compliance, Vol. 19 Issue: 2, pp. 13-15 (2018)
  • “Assembling the Pieces of the Scienter Puzzle: A New Approach to a Holistic Review of Scienter Pleading under Tellabs and the PSLRA,” Michigan State Journal of Business & Securities Law (April 9, 2014)
  • “Comcast Puts Securities Plaintiffs To An Earlier Test,” Law360 (January 27, 2014)
  • “'Holistic Review in Federal Securities Litigation,” Corporate Counsel (October 17, 2013)
  • “Am I on Speaker? Privacy in the Age of Smartphones,” Los Angeles Daily Journal (December 16, 2011)
  • “Courts Restrict Defendants’ Ability to Take Offensive,” The Recorder (July 25, 2011)
  • “The Facebook Effect on Litigation and Civil Discovery,” Los Angeles Daily Journal (June 28, 2011)
  • “Navigating the Thicket of California Law on Class Action Waivers,” Los Angeles Daily Journal (February 7, 2011)
  • “Interlocutory Appellate Review of Class-Certification Rulings under Rule 23(f): Do Articulated Standards Matter?” DRI’s Certworthy Newsletter (Winter 2009)
  • Representing one of the nation’s largest banks in numerous high-stakes consumer banking putative class actions.
  • Representing a cryptocurrency mining machines manufacturer in a Section 11 federal securities class action.
  • Representing a cryptocurrency mining machines manufacturer in a putative unfair competition class action.
  • Representing an online game developer in a putative securities class action involving a going-private transaction.
  • Represented an online service provider in one of the first shareholder class actions seeking to exploit China's ban on initial coin offerings. Manhattan federal Judge Paul A. Crotty dismissed with prejudice a Section 10(b) claim against the company and its CEO.

Alerts and Publications

Crypto Crackdown: Regulating a Post-FTX World

February 14, 2023

State Regulators Want a Piece of the FTX Fallout Too

February 3, 2023

Legislative Update: Bills Target Cryptomining’s Energy Consumption

February 2, 2023

Insights 2023

January 31, 2023

State UDAP Enforcement Poses New Risk for Crypto Companies

January 27, 2023

NFT: A Token of Corporate Affection

January 25, 2023

The Words Matter: Bankruptcy Court Finds Clear Terms of Clickwrap Agreement Made Customer Cryptocurrency Property of Celsius Bankruptcy Estate

January 11, 2023

The Corporate Transparency Act Treasury’s New Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting Regime

December 22, 2022

Takeaways from the Second (Proposed) Rule on Access: Who’s in the BOIs’ Club?

December 22, 2022

FTX Bankruptcy: Tax Implications of Vanishing Customer Deposits

December 9, 2022

New York State Seeks to Raise the Bar on Cybersecurity for Financial Services Providers, Including Certain Fintech and Cryptocurrency Companies

November 21, 2022

SOS! DAO in Distress!

October 13, 2022

Howey Should Think About NFTs and Securities Laws

September 29, 2022

Governor Newsom Vetoes the California BitLicense, Calling It Premature

September 27, 2022

From New York to California: The BitLicense Goes Bicoastal

September 21, 2022

NFTs and Secured Transactions

September 14, 2022

The Taxonomy of NFTs

August 31, 2022

The ABCs of NFTs

August 17, 2022

What the DAO?: A Series on the Legal Issues Raised by the Latest Crypto Trend

July 18, 2022

DAOs and Bankruptcy

May 24, 2022

Securities, Regulations, and DAOs

May 19, 2022

What the DAO? Nothing Is Certain—Especially DAOs and Taxes

May 11, 2022

After President Biden’s E.O. on Digital Assets, Top Regulators Hit the Road, Painting a Picture of the Digital Asset Regulatory Landscape To Come

April 13, 2022

What the DAO? Why Everyone Is Talking About Decentralized Autonomous Organizations

April 11, 2022

Realistic Regulation: President Biden’s Digital Asset Order Avoids Industry’s Worst Fears

March 17, 2022

What the DAO? Breaking Down the Latest Blockchain Craze

March 8, 2022


In the News

Law Journal Newsletters: What Can We Learn from the FTX Bankruptcy?

December 1, 2022

Thomson Reuters Practical Law: Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs): Overview

November 29, 2022

Turnarounds & Workouts: FTX Fallout: More Regulatory Action and ... Turf War?

November 20, 2022

Global Banking Regulation Review: Regulators Brace for FTX Fallout

November 15, 2022

Investment News: Crypto Space Braces for Double-Edged Sword of Regulatory Oversight in FTX’s Wake

November 15, 2022

The Fashion Law: The SEC is Reportedly Probing Yuga Labs Over Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs

October 12, 2022

Law360: O’Melveny Adds Financial Crimes Deputy Chief As Partner

September 19, 2022

Reuters: Ex-FinCEN Official Joins O’Melveny as Law Firms Bulk Up White-Collar Groups

September 19, 2022

The American Lawyer: The American Lawyer 2022 West Trailblazers

August 1, 2022

Reuters: What Are DAOs And Why Are They Legally Vulnerable?

July 21, 2022

Law360: Navigating Section 363 As A Decentralized Autonomous Org

June 16, 2022

Press Releases